Hamilton County Commissioners want more SROs

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Hamilton County Commissioners said in a meeting Tuesday that they are anxious to expand the number of SROs at school campuses – even if it means using a number of security guards to help fill open positions.

Hamilton County is having trouble hiring more Student Resource Officers.

“Since I’ve been on the board the last three years, we have never reached that goal, and we’re substantially under that goal.” said Tucker McClendon, Hamilton County School Board, District 8.

Although the County Commission has budgeted for 44 SROs, only 32 of those have been filled.

Now, School Board members are saying they’re willing to hire SSOs, basically campus security guards, to fill the positions.

Greg Martin, Hamilton Commissioner said, “I’ve put up a resolution asking the county commission to fully fund our SSO program and hopefully if that passes tonight that will go to the commission for their consideration.”

When asked if budgeting was an issue in hiring and retaining SROs, County Commissioner Greg Martin says the Commission has allocated plenty of money for the sheriff’s office.

“It’s not a matter of there’s not enough money for the sheriff to recruit them, I think there’s not enough people.”

He says that the role of SROs go beyond just being security guards, often serving as mentors for students.

“I know we had an SRO for example over at Hixson High who was the archery coach and took them to the state championship just a couple years ago. That’s one of those things that gives young people a lot of confidence in our sheriff’s deputy and police department.”

And Sheriff Hammond revealed his thoughts on the SRO program in an exclusive interview with News 12.

“The problem is hiring people to be SROs and the problem is also hiring police officers, we’re in a time right now where people don’t want to do law enforcement. That’s put a big burden on it. I don’t know if the department is meeting their goals. I’m sure there are a few out there maybe because of the pay and some other things. It’s just tough times to get SROs.”

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